Dozens of tenants arrested at rent reform protest outside assembly chamber

Tenant advocates demand lawmakers pass their package of nine bills without delay

New York /
Jun.June 04, 2019 04:37 PM
Tenant protesters were arrested in Albany on Tuesday as legislators consider a nine-bill package on rent reform. (Photo by Georgia Kromrei/TRD)

Tenant protesters were arrested in Albany on Tuesday as legislators consider a nine-bill package on rent reform. (Photo by Georgia Kromrei/TRD)

Protestors were arrested on Tuesday after blocking the entrance to the state Assembly chamber, as they demanded that the state legislature pass a package of nine bills aimed at reforming rent regulation laws. Similar protests and arrests took place outside the Senate chamber and Gov. Cuomo’s office, in an effort by tenants to pressure lawmakers to pass the measures with only 11 days before rent laws expire.

The protests occurred as Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins told the Buffalo News that there is now enough support in the Senate to move forward with the nine-bill package.

Tenant activists, all wearing red “Housing Justice For All” T-shirts blocked the stairs to the hallway just outside the chamber, filling the cavernous room with shouts of “all nine bills” and “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Universal Rent Control.” Assembly officials tried to physically force protestors out of the way but failed. At one point, Assembly Sergeant-At-Arms Wayne Jackson climbed over a woman to get back to the chambers. He declined to comment about the incident afterward.

Protestors were holding signs featuring images of a disembodied Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Stewart-Cousins next to scales weighing landlords on one side and families on the other. While lobbyists and Assembly members looked on, state police officers took tenants away in handcuffs two-by-two amid cheers from the other tenants. At least a dozen people were arrested outside the Assembly chambers, and according to state police, 61 people were arrested throughout the Capitol.

After the protestors were arrested, Assembly members Walter Mosley and Harvey Epstein were briefly seen chanting along with the crowd. Tenants booed lobbyists, who had been waiting outside the Assembly chamber hoping to talk to lawmakers, as they filed out of the hallway.

Tenant advocates from various organizations, including Met Council, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road, Crown Heights Tenant Union and Democratic Socialists of America, participated in the acts of civil disobedience that resulted in scores of arrests under the banner of Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition of tenant advocacy organizations.

The protest took place outside the assembly chamber, not usually the center of focus. Pressure on the assembly intensified after sweeping 2018 elections that saw the defeat of real estate industry favorites in the Senate.

The package of bills includes ending vacancy decontrol, as well as the Major Capital Improvements and Individual Apartment Improvements programs, making preferential rents permanent, expanding the Emergency Tenant Protection Act statewide and enacting “Good Cause” eviction. The real estate industry argues that the bills would disincentivize development.

Packaging the issues into one omnibus bill would fundamentally change the nature of the negotiations, setting the stage for Cuomo, Heastie and Stewart-Cousins to negotiate the rent regulation legislation alongside other controversial measures.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Blackstone CEO Steven Schwartzman and Stuyvesant Town (Credit: Getty Images)
After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies
After authorities vowed review of Stuy Town deal, Blackstone changes course on vacancies
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Tete-à-tete with TRD: How landlords are dealing with New York’s new rent laws
Real Capital Analytics data showed that New York’s multifamily market had a very slow July. (Credit: iStock)
New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”
New NYC rent law “beginning to shut down investment”
City won’t landmark Grand Prospect Hall, clearing way for demolition
City won’t landmark Grand Prospect Hall, clearing way for demolition
City won’t landmark Grand Prospect Hall, clearing way for demolition
A crackdown on mob activity has brought to light the alleged shakedown of a construction union based in Queens. (iStock)
Colombo mob boss arrested over alleged construction union shakedown
Colombo mob boss arrested over alleged construction union shakedown
Gov. Gavin Newsom (Getty)
California Gov. Newsom wins recall election; homeless, housing crises loom
California Gov. Newsom wins recall election; homeless, housing crises loom
The Real Estate Roundtable's  John Fish and Jeffrey DeBoer (Real Estate Roundtable, iStock)
Real Estate Roundtable: Break deadlock on $1T infrastructure bill
Real Estate Roundtable: Break deadlock on $1T infrastructure bill
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Getty)
For real this time? City schedules tax lien sale
For real this time? City schedules tax lien sale
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...